FISH AND WILDLIFE
[Filed February 11, 2021, 12:11 p.m.]
Preproposal statement of inquiry was filed as WSR 20-21-057 on October 14, 2020.
Title of Rule and Other Identifying Information: WAC 220-200-100 Wildlife classified as protected shall not be hunted or fished, and 220-610-010 Wildlife classified as endangered species.
Hearing Location(s): On March 25-27, 2021, at 8:00 a.m., webinar. This meeting will take place by webinar. The public may participate in the meeting. Visit our website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/about/commission/meetings or contact the commission office at 360-902-2267 or firstname.lastname@example.org for instruction on how to join the meeting.
Date of Intended Adoption: April 22-24, 2021.
Submit Written Comments to: Wildlife Program, P.O. Box 43200, Olympia, WA 98504, email Rules.Coordinator@dfw.wa.gov, fax 360-902-2162, https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/86HJTCJ, SEPA comments https://wdfw.wa.gov/licenses/environmental/sepa/open-comments, by March 11, 2021.
Assistance for Persons with Disabilities: Contact Title VI/ADA compliance coordinator, phone 360-902-2349, TTY 711, email Title6@dfw.wa.gov, for more information see https://wdfw.wa.gov/accessibility/requests-accommodation, by March 18, 2021.
Purpose of the Proposal and Its Anticipated Effects, Including Any Changes in Existing Rules: The purpose of this rule proposal is to classify the "greater" sage-grouse as endangered in the state of Washington under WAC 220-610-010. Anticipated effects include the additional recognition and prioritization of the conservation need and actions around greater sage-grouse. If the status change is approved, "greater" sage-grouse will be removed from WAC 220-200-100 Wildlife classified as protected shall not be hunted or fished, and added to WAC 220-610-010 Wildlife classified as endangered species.
Also, in WAC 220-610-010 Wildlife classified as endangered species, administrative changes such as capitalization to species names have been made for consistency.
Reasons Supporting Proposal: Greater sage-grouse in Washington were listed as threatened in 1998 with a recovery plan completed in 2004. The state-wide population estimate, based on lek counts, was six hundred seventy-six birds in 2019. Preliminary data for 2020 suggested that the population in Lincoln County declined from thirteen to ten, the population on the Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM) - Yakima Training Center (YTC) declined from seventy-eight to sixty-five, while the population in Douglas County increased from five hundred eighty-five to six hundred fifty-three, for a statewide total of seven hundred seventy. Subsequent to those counts, the habitat of all three populations were affected by wildfires. Preliminary assessments suggest that the Douglas County population will be reduced by ~50% due to loss of sagebrush on half the occupied habitat, and mortalities primarily from high predation due to lack of cover. The struggling Lincoln County population will probably be extirpated.
The potential for wildfires to eliminate sagebrush (Artemisia spp.) on extensive areas has been the greatest ongoing threat to sage-grouse in Washington, as we have seen in 2020. However, with the continued decline, all of Washington's populations are now likely suffering from problems with genetic health and fitness related to small population size. Uncertainty about the long-term maintenance of habitat that depends on Farm Bill programs (CRP/SAFE) is also a major concern. Other major management issues include habitat that is fragmented by roads, agriculture, development and degraded by past wildfires, historical excessive livestock grazing, fencing, electrical transmission lines, and exotic vegetation. Sage-grouse may suffer mortality rates above historical levels as a result of collisions with fences, powerlines, vehicles, and higher populations of some generalist predators, especially ravens and coyotes.
The Washington department of fish and wildlife (WDFW) and several partner organizations are working on habitat and other aspects of sage-grouse recovery. Without these efforts, the sage-grouse would likely decline to extinction in Washington. In Spring 2020, sage-grouse had not yet declined to population levels indicated in the 2004 state recovery plan for up-listing (<650 birds); however, that was before the devastating fires of September, and the threshold assumed that the Douglas County and JBLM-YTC populations were connected, which now appears unjustified. Due in part to their polygynous mating system, the effective size of the three populations are ~107 birds for Douglas County and ten birds for JBLM-YTC. Extinction of the Lincoln County population is all but certain, and of the JBLM-YTC within a decade or so is likely unless they can be increased substantially. The hope of any reintroductions in the future is tempered by the recent failure of the reintroduction project by the Yakama Nation, the probable failure of the Lincoln County population, and the continued loss of habitat in suitable conditions by wildland fire.
Concurrent with this troubling decline, genomic analysis has indicated that Washington's population is more distinct than the bi-state population that was proposed for listing as a threatened "Distinct Population Segment" under the Endangered Species Act (USFWS 2019). For these reasons, it is recommended the sage-grouse be up-listed to endangered in Washington.
Rule is not necessitated by federal law, federal or state court decision.
Name of Proponent: WDFW, governmental.
Name of Agency Personnel Responsible for Drafting and Implementation: Eric Gardner, 1111 Washington Street S.E., Olympia, WA 98501, 360-902-2515; Enforcement: Steve Bear, 1111 Washington Street S.E., Olympia, WA 98501, 360-902-2373.
A school district fiscal impact statement is not required under RCW 28A.305.135
A cost-benefit analysis is not required under RCW 34.05.328
. The proposed periodic status review for the greater sage grouse does not require a cost-benefit analysis per RCW 34.05.328
This rule proposal, or portions of the proposal, is exempt from requirements of the Regulatory Fairness Act because the proposal:
Is exempt under RCW 19.85.025
(3) as the rules relate only to internal governmental operations that are not subject to violation by a nongovernment party; and rules only correct typographical errors, make address or name changes, or clarify language of a rule without changing its effect.
February 11, 2021
AMENDATORY SECTION(Amending WSR 18-17-153, filed 8/21/18, effective 9/21/18)
WAC 220-200-100Wildlife classified as protected shall not be hunted or fished.
Protected wildlife are designated into three subcategories: Threatened, sensitive, and other.
(1) Threatened species are any wildlife species native to the state of Washington that are likely to become endangered within the foreseeable future throughout a significant portion of their range within the state without cooperative management or removal of threats. Protected wildlife designated as threatened include:
western gray squirrel
green sea turtle
((greater sage grouse
Mazama pocket gopher
American white pelican
(2) Sensitive species are any wildlife species native to the state of Washington that are vulnerable or declining and are likely to become endangered or threatened in a significant portion of their range within the state without cooperative management or removal of threats. Protected wildlife designated as sensitive include:
(3) Other protected wildlife include:
cony or pika
northern flying squirrel
Humboldt's flying squirrel
All birds not classified as game birds, predatory birds or endangered species, or designated as threatened species or sensitive species; all bats, except when found in or immediately adjacent to a dwelling or other occupied building; mammals of the order Cetacea, including whales, porpoises, and mammals of the order Pinnipedia not otherwise classified as endangered species, or designated as threatened species or sensitive species. This section shall not apply to hair seals and sea lions which are threatening to damage or are damaging commercial fishing gear being utilized in a lawful manner or when said mammals are damaging or threatening to damage commercial fish being lawfully taken with commercial gear.
[AMENDATORY SECTION(Amending WSR 19-13-013, filed 6/7/19, effective 7/8/19)]
WAC 220-610-010Wildlife classified as endangered species.
Endangered species include:
North Pacific right whale
Odocoileus virginianus leucurus
Rangifer tarandus caribou
Columbian sharp-tailed grouse
Tympanuchus phasianellus columbianus
western pond turtle
leatherback sea turtle
Speyeria zerene hippolyta
Oregon spotted frog
northern leopard frog
Euphydryas editha taylori
sStreaked horned lark
Eremophila alpestris strigata
North American lynx
lLoggerhead sea turtle
greater sage grouse
Reviser's note: The bracketed material preceding the section above was supplied by the code reviser's office.
Reviser's note: RCW 34.05.395 requires the use of underlining and deletion marks to indicate amendments to existing rules. The rule published above varies from its predecessor in certain respects not indicated by the use of these markings.